Southern Arizonans remember Sept. 11, 2001 - Tucson News Now

Southern Arizonans remember Sept. 11, 2001

First responders remember 9/11. (Source: Tucson News Now) First responders remember 9/11. (Source: Tucson News Now)
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

More than 200 people gathered at the Mountain View Retirement Village to mark the 16th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

That's the day 19 terrorists hijacked four American and United airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania killing 2,996 people.

343 of those who died that day were firefighters. Altogether, 413 who died were first responders.

On the 16th anniversary, it's thought memories have begun to fade and too many people have forgotten.

Nearly one quarter of the U.S. population were not born or were infants when the terrorist attack happened.

It's generally why first responders have taken up the call to "Never Forget." 

That was the theme built around the event at Mountain View.

"That morning, so many firefighters who were going off duty went back to their station, those who were not even on duty went to their stations, police officers called in," said Bureau Chief Karl Woolridge, of the Pima County Sheriff's Department. "And for many of them it was going to be their last call."

Throughout the village, there were obvious signs this was about first responders, including the U.S. Border Patrol who sent a contingency. It was about remembering their brothers and sisters who died that day.

"I remember exactly where I was, exactly what I was doing," Golder Ranch Fire Chief Randy Karrer said. "Holding my wife who was in tears because she knew we lost friends."

90-year-old Robert McAndrew, a World War II Navy veteran was flying out of Logan Airport in Boston and his plane took off at almost the same time as a hijacked plane.

"We were as lucky as lucky could be," he said.

About 10 minutes into the flight, the captain told the passengers, they would turn around and head back to Logan. But a few minutes later, the plane was told to continue to its destination in Germany.

McAndrew feels the event has changed the world forever.

"There is no way we will return to what we were," he said. "It's a different world altogether."

But the task is to pass on the pain and emotion of that day to the next generation.

Tim Nelson, a former Marine, who was stationed in Virginia at the time of the attack, says that is the challenge.

"I have five children myself and they know about it," he said. "But I go the extra step."

On this day, around the dinner table, they will talk about why the day is important.

"I hope other parents do it, too," Nelson said.

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